Remembering And Helping The Widows

Julie was full of happiness. She had just spent the last 15 minutes on Skype with Jake. Jake and Julie had wed 4 years ago just before he entered basic combat training at Fort Benning, Georgia. For the past 8 months, Jake was stationed in a volatile area of Afghanistan. Julie found herself nervous and full of despair about Jake’s safety, but when they Skyped, she gained assurance that Jake was going to be fine.

Jake spoke of old times. He laughed with Julie about the flat tire they had traveling for their honeymoon, and how the spare was flat too. How they had to walk 8 miles and stay in a run down motel for the first night of their honeymoon.

The conversation Jake and Julie had last night was wonderful. Julie realized that she had finally slept a full night without nightmares of Jake dying.

Jennifer bounded down the stairs. Jennifer is Jake and Julie’s 3 year old daughter. Jake believes she came to be that evening after an 8 mile hike in wedding attire. “Mommy, can I have some Fruity Pebbles?” Julie giggled and pointed to the table where she had already put Jennifer’s favorite cereal bowl.

The doorbell rang, and Julie thought, “Who could that be?”

There were 2 uniforms outside the door and Julie screamed in agony. Jennifer came running, and one of the soldiers picked her up and handed her a teddy bear telling Jen her Daddy wanted her to have it.

You see, Jake was killed by a sniper as he had walked back to his sleeping quarters after talking with Julie the night before

The story above is completely fictional. Any resemblance to people whether living or dead is purely coincidental. This was just made up to serve a point.

“Learn to practice what is good; seek justice, alleviate oppression, defend orphans in court, and plead the widow’s case.” Isaiah 1:17

The story I wrote is fictional, but similar situations have happened. As a nation, we honor the fallen in many ways. We hug the widow at the soldier’s funeral, and then we travel home to our own lives. There she is, in her anguish after losing the one she loves in war. So what about the widow? What about the fatherless or motherless children? What do they do now?

This is a subject that is seldom discussed. The fact is: it is war…it is the military and people will die, but is there enough being done to help the widows and widowers?

As I researched this subject, I discovered a mistake that should never have happened. A woman lost her husband to a roadside bomb. She was hoping the Army would send her some of his clothing, but was told they had to burn it all. She understood, knowing it was probably blood-soaked. But, a box arrived in the mail a few weeks later. She opened it to find Army issued boots which she immediately assumed were her husband’s. She buried her head in them and then realized they were much too small. It seems, someone had mailed her another soldier’s boots who had been killed.

What kind of emotions would you feel? Anger, sadness, hate and more anger…. how could this happen?

The widows need to be remembered and treated with utmost respect in my belief. I believe that more needs to be done, and it starts with unit commanders. In my opinion, a part of the Family Readiness Group needs to be a bereavement and widow support group. Groups such as these have sprung to life, but the ones who have started them are widows like the one who received the wrong boots.

There are many benefits for widows and children. They consist of:

While they are good benefits, something is still missing. The love and care that spouse and children had. While the Army, or and other branch of the military cannot provide those, they can make sure there are ample support groups for these individuals.

As a commander, I suggest you propose this to those who take care of your unit’s Family Readiness Group. While we do not like to bring up the subject of death, it needs to be covered. Widows deserve all the care we can possibly provide. They sacrificed, so we all should sacrifice for them.

Conclusion

What are your thoughts and opinions on this difficult subject? Do you think the widows are being taken care of as much as they should be? What ideas do you have to help the widows, widowers and children? Please post your comments below.

I am installing some great links in relation to this subject.

To all service related widows and widowers…thank you for your sacrifice. May you all be blessed.

http://www.armytimes.com/story/military/2015/03/16/washington-based-army-widows-group-takes-care-of-their-own/24842391/

http://www.npr.org/2014/09/25/350919088/moving-on-project-helps-war-widows-recover

http://edition.cnn.com/2011/US/05/26/cnnheroes.davis.military.widows/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bob-geiger/war-widows-fighting-for-benefits_b_1464146.html

http://www.dailystrength.org/c/Widows-Widowers/forum

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